Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur has bank accounts and shares in public companies and private business ventures that he keeps secret from the electorate and the Legislature.
Owen and his companions are able to do this because Barbados has no requirement for Government Ministers, elected members or their immediate families to file financial statements with a Conflict of Interest Committee or other body of public oversight.
This is hardly a surprise as the Arthur Owen Government won’t even post a copy of the Auditor General’s report on the internet for all citizens to see.
In any democracy, and especially a small democracy like Barbados, public oversight of potential conflicts of interest should be a high priority. Otherwise, the governing elites seem unable to avoid the temptation of feathering their nests. If we wanted to list all the examples in Barbados, we could start with the GEMS fiasco in the morning and still be writing at the end of the day.
So how about it, Mr. Prime Minister? Wouldn’t this recent cabinet shuffle be an ideal time to show openness and accountability by introducing a policy of full financial disclosure for those Bajans who can award multi-million dollar contracts with the stroke of a pen?
Hmmmm? How about it?
And while you are at it, Mr. Prime Minister, please have yourself and each of your new Ministers publish answers to the following questions:
1/ Now or at any time in the past, have you or any of your immediate family members maintained a bank account or stock portfolio outside of Barbados?
2/ Now or at any time in the past, have you or any of your immediate family members had shares or options to purchase shares in any corporation that has received any public funds from Barbados at any time?
3/ Now or at any time in the past, have you or any of your immediate family members received monies or any other assets from any corporation that has received any public funds from Barbados at any time?
4/ Now or at any time in the past, have you or any of your immediate family members owned lands that were either purchased by the Government of Barbados, or owned at any time by the Government of Barbados?
That will do for a start, Mr. Prime Minister. Oh, and please ask some of your Ministers to publish their responses as soon as possible – as we wish to check the veracity of their answers against information that we already know.
(And to our readers, keep those tips coming!)